#ConfusingComms - Amelia and Cathy's Experience

Cathy shares with us her example of a poorly written NHS appointment letter as part of our #ConfusingComms campaign.
Girl looking sad, holding her phone

In response to our #ConfusingComms campaign, Amelia and her mum, Cathy shared with us their experience of how a poorly written NHS appointment letter had caused unnecessary anxiety, worry and frustration. 

Read their experience below:

Cathy (Amelia's mum) says:

My teenage daughter, Amelia lives with a health condition she has had most of her life. She has been under a specialist for a couple of years.

Amelia is also under a post-operative consultant following a life-saving emergency operation last year. 

She had a scan at the hospital about a week earlier and then a letter arrived on Saturday morning for a mid-week appointment the next week. She thought the worse and was highly anxious all weekend.

There was no explanation for the appointment!

I (who live with a disability) phoned the number on the letter to try to get appointment rearranged – as it was going to be difficult to get to the hospital for an early appointment in the weather conditions.

I spoke to the Admin Team but they could only offer an alternative appointment in 2 months time.

They couldn’t answer if it was clinically important to come sooner.

The Admin Team asked the Secretary if it was clinically important to come sooner. They said they couldn’t answer question and agreed to email an update to me.

I felt very unsupported in the call to the Consultant’s Secretary. On top of that, no email came, and a virtual appointment wasn’t offered.

I took Amelia to her appointment. I had to make last minute transport arrangements and endure a lot of anxiety about the urgency of the appointment and what may be happening.

The consultant wasn’t aware of my issue/communication with the admin or secretary.

The appointment had been a routine one and clinically not urgent. I felt like all my anxiety would have been saved if the letter had explained this.

What went wrong?

Amelia and her mum's anxiety was completely due to the poorly written appointment letter. If the letter had been written better, it would have mentioned what the appointment was for and if it was urgent. 

Have you had a similar experience?

If you have received a poorly written NHS appointment letter, please get involved with our #ConfusingComms campaign by sending us a photo of your letter.

With your support, we can identify how local health services could improve their communications so that patients feel confident, safe, and reassured for their appointment.

Read more about our campaign and share your letter

Has your NHS appointment letter made you feel confused, worried, or anxious?

By sending us a copy (photo/scan) of your #ConfusingComms, you’ll be helping local health services support people well and increase attendance to important health appointments. With your support, we can highlight where these letters could be made better and help to influence positive change.

Share your NHS appointment letter